I am certainly not the first to note that certain educational and professional institutions are filled with people who are related and think alike. Words and concepts such like ‘oxbridge‘, ‘ivy league‘ etc litter our language.
This post is not about why class and institutional incest occur, but how it destroys the very systems it is supposed to help and lead.
So what makes class and educational incest so deadly in the long run? Could it be incompetence, corruption, inbreeding or elitism? In my opinion, those are minor players compared to the real monster in the room.
A restricted worldview.
So why is a narrow worldview much more dangerous than elitism, inbreeding or corruption? The answer lies at the very core of institutional existence.
All institutions exist to solve problems.
Institutions that cannot solve problem effectively lose legitimacy and real power. Loss of legitimacy and power is a process beyond human control- at best it can be slowed down by blocking information flow or sped up by facilitating it.
So why can’t highly incestuous classes and institutions deal with problems as effectively as less incestuous ones?
There are two types of problems- old and new. Incestuous institutions are quite capable of dealing with old problems because that it why they came into existence. However the intellectual homogeneity and status jockeying within such institutions make them incapable of solving new problems or old problems under newer conditions.
Cleverness (high IQ) cannot protect such institutions since nobody within their membership wants to lose their position or rock the boat. They keep on plugging old solutions and methods into new problems. Doing anything else would be a challenge to the hierarchy and cause the innovator to risk social ostracism. Institutional autism has its price.
Civilizations, empires, corporations and organisations which have the resources to overcome new problems through novel solutions almost always never do so because that would make the current crop of ‘elites’ look like the pathetic unimaginative wankers. Make no mistake- the decline of the British empire began with almost total domination of Oxford and Cambridge indoctrinated morons in all hierarchical institutions. The fall of the american empire also began once all hierarchical institutions started getting filled with ‘ivy leaguers’ and their cronies since the 1980s.
It is very easy to believe that you are clever, right and competent once you are insulated from the immediate consequence of your actions and surrounded by people who think just like you. Groupthink is easier and more profitable (in the short-term) than challenging hierarchy and authority- no matter how defective and wrong.
To put it succinctly- Slaves voluntarily chained to a galley cannot save a leaking boat by rowing faster.